Tag Archives: Mobile phone

The Bluetooth Runaround

Today we have yet another tale of consumer woe and multiple corporate failures.  This one is a doozy, since it affects a couple of popular products and is generating a lot of chatter on the interwebs.  In fact, one popular site has over a hundred comments on this topic and that’s just a subset of the problem.

Android invasion, Sydney, Australia

(Photo credit: Pranav Bhatt)

As our featured players we have a very popular phone, a couple of very popular families of cars, every cell phone carrier (notice I didn’t use the term “popular” with them) and a LOT of consumers.  Let me explain.

A coupe of months ago I upgraded my phone to the Galaxy SG3.  I love the phone – great display, very fast – no complaints at all.  It came with the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android and I use AT&T as my carrier.  When I got the phone I linked it to my car – a Nissan Altima Hybrid – using Bluetooth and was happily using the car’s built-in hand’s free system to chat and drive safely.

A month ago I became even happier when AT&T pushed an upgrade to Android, installing the Jelly Bean version.  The phone seemed even faster, I got Google Now, and  I was happy to be running a more current version.  Until I received a phone call in the car.  It sounded like an alien calling and I had to pull over to pick up the phone and talk.  I rebooted the phone, it connected to the car, but the sound was bad.  Unusable, actually.  I tried pairing it again to the car, hard resets of the phone and a few other tricks but the audio is completely garbled.

A search on the topic showed me that we have a multiple part blame game going on.  It is an issue affecting not just Nissans but VW/Audi, Inifinitis and a few other models.  Just this phone, every carrier, and only when the phone is upgraded to Jelly Bean.  The carriers say it’s Samsung’s fault.  Samsung says the auto guys need to upgrade the Bluetooth software in their cars.  They all blame Android for not making the Bluetooth version in Jelly Bean backward compatible.

Here is what none of them are doing:  taking responsibility for fixing it.  What they’re not seeing is that it’s costing them money as well as massive amounts of goodwill.  At a minimum  it’s hundreds of calls to customer service, each of which costs money   In the case of the carriers, many people are demanding new phones (which have the older version of Android) to replace the upgraded one.  That’s expensive.  Does any business have too many customers?  There are a lot of cars/phones/carriers from which one can choose, and while very few people are going to make an immediate change to their car or carrier, people don’t forget how they were supported when the time for that evaluation comes.

I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with this.  Maybe I’ll just try to use the phone’s speaker if I get a call while driving.  Maybe I’ll go get a new S3 and not upgrade it until I see this is fixed or they push another version of Android (the rumors are 4.2.2. fixes it).  I’m really interested to see if any party to this mess steps up and does something other than point fingers.  Why am I not surprised?  Isn’t that sad?

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Filed under Reality checks

Men Don’t Shop – They Buy

There was a great movie that came out in 1979 called “Starting Over.”

Cover of "Starting Over"

Cover of Starting Over

It starred Burt Reynolds as a newly divorced man and featured Oscar-nominated performances by Candice Bergen and Jill Clayburgh.  I thought of that film the other day as I read about a piece of research from the folks at  uSamp.  I’ll explain why in a second, but first the research findings, which you can read about here:

Men are more likely than women to buy a variety of products, including digital content and consumer electronics, on mobile devices.  30% of male respondents in uSamp’s study said they have bought digital content via a mobile device, compared to just 20% of women. The disparity is even wider when it comes to consumer electronics; 27% of male respondents said they have bought a consumer electronic via a mobile device vs. 8% of female respondents. Men seem to be more active on mobile devices after the purchase as well. 35% of male respondents (females: 28%) indicated that they have commented on a purchase via a mobile device, and 26% (females: 16%) have written a review of a purchase.

There is a scene in the 30-year-old movie which reminds me of why the above is no surprise.  After he gets kicked out, Reynolds’ character needs new stuff – a bed, etc.  He goes shopping by walking quickly through the department store aisles followed by a clerk pushing a cart.  He slaps items as he goes, which the clerk throws into the cart.  The point is that most men don’t look as shopping as an experience but as a task, and we all know that tech devices are great at helping us accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently.  Men don’t “shop” – we buy.

Your primary target is something to consider as you’re thinking through the customer experience   The differences between male and female shoppers should be taken into account.  If you’re a sporting goods store,for example,  maybe spending more money on anything that makes the process more efficient (faster checkout, more visible information about products, huge store directories) is a better investment than in-store music, snazzy graphics, or clever displays.  One can carry that thinking to a web shopping experience, a sports app, or any other business.

See the movie if you get a chance, and remember the lesson even if you don’t.  Funny how research keeps echoing real life!

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Filed under Helpful Hints

You Carry A Tamagotchi, Honestly.

Anyone remember the Tamagotchi?  They were a late 1990’s phenomenon – digital handheld pets.  The owner had to care for them on a daily – maybe even hourly – basis or they’d die.  Not a fun experience for either the owner (generally a child) or the parent.

I was reminded of the constant care and feeding required by those things this morning as I booted up my phone and found nearly a dozen app updates that needed to be installed.  That, of course, was after I updated a half-dozen yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong – some of the updates contained wonderful enhancements to the app and were very welcome but way too many were either bug or security fixes.  In fact, if you own a smartphone, notice how often you get an update followed within a day or two by another.

Having worked on a few mobile apps, I know how hard it can be to catch everything in QC.  We’re not going to have the Android vs. iOS chat now but even in a closed system like iOS there are multiple versions in multiple devices and the updates come fast and furious.  Using the mobile web and web apps is better although various browser/hardware/OS issues still make testing hard.  At least the user doesn’t have to do any updating though.

The real issue for me is that I’m not sure there’s enough thought or care given to the constant update issue.  Some apps will do a partial release – they think if a button was bigger it would get better results so they push an update to some of their users to test it.  Other apps decide to change the permissions (to get more of them and more data) on their installed base knowing that most people don’t look at that when they install the update.  Still others move features behind a pay wall.  Obviously security issues need to be fixed immediately, but a logo change can certainly wait until a big release, right?

Way back when in the early web days the dream was for a universal browser looking a web sites – no client side activity at all.  Now in mobile it’s gone back the other way – dedicated client-side apps have replaced the server activity.  Maybe it’s that apps are a closed world – I’m not shopping Barnes & Noble while I’m in Amazon’s app.  But there’s got to be something other than grown-up Tamagotchi worlds living on our smartphones.

Thoughts?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud